A blog which periodically revisits evergreen investment principles!

The Ultimate Productivity Tool (for investors)

The Ultimate Productivity Tool (for investors)

Before I go into the why, here’s the what –

The Ultimate Productivity Tool for an Investor, surprisingly, is “Commuting

I have been working out of an office for the past 7 years now, which means, each day I spend 1 hr 20 mins one way (door to door). Fortunately I don’t have to juggle multiple modes of transport. In the beginning this routine was non-intrusive, then it became a nuisance & then suddenly it became invisible.

Let me explain, with a detour. As an analyst & an investor, I interact with a lot of peers & every time we exchange  lot of book titles & other reading material. Incidentally I also hear many people complaining that they don’t get to read as much as I do & it always used to amaze me because these people  lived very close from their work places & had more time than I had, during the day. 

Sadly, that’s not how time works. Even though time is constant for everyone, our minds aren’t always oriented to make the most of it. Since I was stuck in a commute for at least 2 hours each day & being in Mumbai, didn’t expect to travel in an empty train, I evolved my reading / listening habits to help me block the mundane commute. 

My commute might be very easily the ultimate productivity tool I have ever used. To commute in a civilised manner, it forces me to rise up early to catch a train during a desired time frame. I don’t have any fixation to always find a place to sit, that allows me to accommodate myself in any train to stand & fire up my kindle. It was unimaginable to me how much reading I could get done in an environment where I didn’t necessarily have to engage with people around me. 

I also ‘invested’ in a good pair of noise isolation earphones, ever since I got a taste for podcasts & audiobooks. Now If I ever find myself in a situation where I don’t have room in the train to read on my Kindle, I listen to something. Nowadays, apps like Instapaper / Pocket can archive a lot of short reading material to read later. I use these long journeys to run through my list of pending long form articles / editorials / essays. Something I couldn’t find the motivation to do while I was working at my office desk. There I always feel like working on other important things like reading annual reports, listening / reading conference calls, or generally doing endurance reading (which is a fancy term for sitting on your ass & going through large volumes of text & numbers).

Why not just rid myself of this misery & work peacefully from home?

Well, I have been a keen observer of the telecommuting dialog & I have many friends & relatives who enjoy the benefits of working from home. I can’t comment on their level of productivity, but another aspect of not telecommuting was to meet like minded people on a daily basis at my workplace. The level of conversation & engagement that happens when you are working with such a team is unparalleled to any amount of remote work. On the weekends & public holidays though, I do enjoy the benefits of working from home & not following my regular routine.

Some tools for the compulsive (compulsory) commuter:


Try & replace a physical book with a Kindle or any e-reader of your choice. I know that there is some romance to the act of flipping paper while we read, the aroma of the book, the texture, the yellow tint, well it is just damn uncomfortable to flip those ecstatic pages when one hand is busy holding yourself in place.

Tablets are also an useful tool, incase books don’t interest you and all you want to do is read Annual Reports or other things in PDF / ePub format. Also apps that store articles to read later, render beautifully on tablets to provide an enjoyable reading experience.

This doesn’t mean you’ve to sacrifice your ability to take notes. I have mentioned about Evernote here. Get a subscription & use it.


I use a brilliant podcast app called Overcast (for iOS). It also allows me to boost the voice quality & increase the speed of the audio in case I don’t have too much patience to listen to something, but need to anyway.

I use Jaybird X2 Sport earphones, which are the best (in my view) to isolate yourself from ambient noise. This also helps in keeping the volume low & reduce the strain on my ears. Mind you, you’ll only respond to physical gestures & will be blocking almost all of the ambient noise, including your fellow commuters requests (& complaints). There are other earphones available out there with similar capabilities, I just haven’t tried them.


One more thing I indulge in during my commute is to take catnaps. If I’m lucky to get a place to sit, I sleep. Period. Intermittent periods of rest have been known to benefit productivity by allowing ourselves to replenish our ability to focus. For more on this, I suggest reading the book, The Power of Full Engagement.


Although I’m a fan of the concept, I’m not an ardent practitioner. Standing & closing my eyes to focus on my breathing for 5-10 minute intervals have been the most refreshing moments during some of my commutes. It allows  me to disengage from my train of thought & helps me move on to the next task with an elevated level of focus.

Incidentally, I also thought of & wrote this blog post while I was commuting, no surprises there 😀


Annuities vs DIY Investing post retirement


Learning Business from Moby Dick


  1. Totally agree with you Raunak.

    Well written post. I am happy that you have used this time in a better way.

    Would like to connect to you soon as we share same set of interests. I have heard few of your videos like Exponential Technologies and other.

    Beautiful Work Done. Appreciated.

  2. Anshul

    Great post Raunak. Thanks for sharing your hacks!

  3. Manoj Pradhan

    Dear Raunak,

    I fully agree with You. being a mubaikar, I had spent 6 year travelling 33 kms in local trains. I used to read a lot during those journeys. But later on when I got transferred to another city, my travel time got reduced and so was my reading hours.

    Earlier, the 2 hours was dedicated to reading without default 5 days a week , but now dedicating 2 hours to reading is not happening. Trying my best to invest more time in myself for reading.

    • Thanks for reading & taking the time out to reply.
      I agree, there’s no rule that says that the time spent in commuting can’t be used effectively.
      It can also mean crushing candies for those who only get time to crush it while they commute.

  4. Jasmeet Dang

    Beautiful Raunak!
    Even i am doing the same, i do not understand where my 50 mins of commute goes by.
    I think, it is one of the untapped opportunity for all of us to read.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

    • Thanks Jasmeet, it’s just an adaptation to my situation. I’m sure if time is dedicated for reading or thinking or meditating, it can be as easily accommodated in our daily (non-commute) routine.

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